Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My favorite day in Africa so far

It was a Wednesday, Feb 10, 2010, the third day of clinical for us at the Lewanika General Hospital. I went to clinical, just like I had for the two days prior. Upon arrival at the hospital it was determined that one of us could go to the Maternal Child Health Clinic if we wanted. I, always one for trying new things, volunteered to go. The day began in the Out Patient’s Department (OPD), and I worked with a nurse who was substituting for a clinical officer ( like a physician assistant). the nurse would gather pertinent information – such as the patient’s chief complaints/symptoms, and do an assessment to the best of her ability. She would then explain to me what her impression or diagnosis was of the patient’s condition. She could then order antibiotics, analgesics, anti-inflammatory medications, and other lab tests or blood work, which was surprising to me how much responsibility and autonomy that she has, as in Canada RN’s typically do not practice in this kind of role. In western society we often rely on technology before we make any assessments or decisions. We saw a variety of conditions that morning, everything from Respiratory Tract Infections, to possible malaria, possible HIV and STIs as well as other ailments. A lot of this work was done using basic pen and paper and a stethoscope, as well as the nurses hands for tools. After some time in this clinic I was shuffled over to an antenatal clinic, where we recorded a history of pregnant mothers, and entered this information by hand onto a paper logbook “record”. I had the nurse be with me to translate the local Lozi language to English. Moving without a break we went to the antenatal clinic where we performed head to toe physical assessments. Again, no technology was used in performing these, I admired the skills that these nurses have in doing this kind of work. After this I went to an area where they were testing for STI’s and HIV via smears on slides. The nurses never cease to amaze me at how multi-talented, and multi-functional they are, continuously working without breaks and doing double shifts. They are a wealth of information and I have already learned so much from being there on just that one day. I left the hospital that day feeling like my purpose for being here had really started, that I was going to make a difference in the world, half a world away from home. Stay tuned!!


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